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Senator the Hon. Penny Wong
Minister for Climate Change, Energy Efficiency and Water

The Hon Dr Mike Kelly AM MP
Parliamentary Secretary for Water

Low flows initiative to improve river management

Joint media release
2 September 2009

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Minister for Climate Change and Water, Senator Penny Wong, today announced $700,000 in research funding to improve knowledge and management of low river flows.

Senator Wong made the announcement at Shepparton as part of a tour of the southern part of the Murray-Darling Basin with Parliamentary Secretary for Water, Dr Mike Kelly.

"Given the impacts of climate change in southern Australia, understanding and managing low flows will play an increasingly critical role in sustaining healthy and productive river systems," Senator Wong said.

"Low river flows have been a neglected area of research. Historically, our water planners and managers have focused on medium and high flows.

"More recently, factors such as the ongoing drought, water extraction, better understanding of groundwater connections and climate change have shifted attention to how we can best manage for low flow situations.

"This initiative will help build the scientific and planning expertise needed to understand how much water Australia's river and groundwater systems are capable of providing into the future.

"The project will provide information to underpin decision-making and water resource investment by governments and industry stakeholders."

Dr Kelly said the project would fill important data and information gaps for water planners and managers, leading to better water plans and improved implementation and monitoring.

"Researchers and water managers will consider the infrastructure, tools and remote sensing techniques needed to measure and monitor low flows," Dr Kelly said.

"Work will be done to improve the modelling and prediction of low flows, as well as to understand how ecosystems respond to decreasing stream flows."

The project aligns with the key priorities of the Rudd Government's $12.9 billion Water for the Future initiative: taking action on climate change, using water wisely, securing our water supplies, and supporting healthy rivers.

The funding for this project has come from the National Water Commission's Raising National Water Standards Program. Project details are available on the National Water Commission website www.nwc.gov.au 

Commonwealth of Australia